Dafne Schippers and Allyson Felix Head for Great North CityGames


2015-09-04-great_citygames.pngDina Asher-Smith and Dafne Schippers, photo from Great Run Company

The Great City Games is one of my favorite events. I am heading over to NewCastle to seeing one of the most innovative events in our sport. As new IAAF president Seb Coe noted on August 11, there should be a global series of these.

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Thanks to the Great Run Company for their support of our visit to their fine event.

Dafne Schippers and Allyson Felix, two of the most glittering golden girls at the World Championships in Beijing, will be heading to Tyneside to race in the Great North CityGames on Saturday, 12 September.

Schippers, the Flying Dutchwoman who sped to a stunning 200m victory in the Chinese capital, will line up in the 100m in front of an expected crowd of 25,000 spectators on the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside.

Felix, the American who took her haul of World Championship gold medals to nine with her 400m success in Beijing, will compete in the 150m.

Securing two of the major international stars of the World Championships is another coup for organisers of a hugely anticipated weekend of world class athletics action in front of the live BBC television cameras on Tyneside.

Mo Farah, who completed a triple global championship double for Britain with his gold medal winning runs in the 5000m and 10,000m in Beijing, defends the elite men's title in the Morrisons Great North Run on Sunday 13 September.

Greg Rutherford, who completed a grand slam of major championship titles with his long jump victory in the Bird's nest Stadium, will be joining Schippers and Felix in a stellar cast in the Great North CityGames on Saturday 12 September.

Schippers' victory in the women's 200m final in Beijing was officially rated the best performance by a female athlete at the World Championships.

The 23-year-old, who won heptathlon bronze at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, clocked a scorching 21.63 seconds, a European record and championship best performance.

Only two women have ever run quicker over 200m: Americans Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34 seconds) and Marion Jones (21.62 seconds).

For good measure, to cement Schippers' place among the sprinting elite, she also took silver in the 100m, clocking a Dutch record 10.81 seconds behind Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

In recognition of her Beijing feats, a seal that was last week rescued from the old canal in her home city, Utrecht, has been named after her. A street in Utrecht is also to bear her name: Dafne Schipperslaan.

Schippers made her debut in the CityGames format in Manchester in May and, despite finishing runner-up in both the 150m and long jump, the long-legged Dutchwoman became an instant fan of the city centre action.

"It was my first experience of street athletics and it was amazing," she said. "The crowd are so close to the athletes and the atmosphere is incredible. I would love to see something like it in my own country, in Amsterdam maybe."

Schippers will be joined in the 100m on Tyneside by Asha Philip and Desiree Henry, who ran the first and last legs for the British team that finished fourth in the 4 x 100m relay in Beijing, setting a national record of 42.10 seconds. The field also includes Jeneba Tarmoh, the American who finished sixth in the 200m final.

Felix won silver medals in both the 4 x 100mand 4 x 400m relays in Beijing, clocking a remarkable split-time of 47.72 seconds in the latter.

She also won the individual 400m in 49.20 seconds, adding to the 200m titles she won in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

Including relays, the 29-year-old Californian now has nine World Championship gold medals, a record for a US athlete, one more than both Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson gained in the course of their stellar track and field careers .Only Usain Bolt has more, having taken his haul to eleven in Beijing.

Felix has 13 World Championships of all colour, the same as Bolt. Merlene Ottey holds the record tally: 14.

Felix, the only individual US winner in a women's event in Beijing, will be joined in the 150m on Tyneside by team-mate Candayce McGrone, who was fourth in the 200m final. The home challenge will be led by Jodie Williams, another member of the national record breaking British 4 x 100m relay quartet.

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